When people think of "north" they often think of cold. The farther north you travel, the more frigid the air. However, I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to live so far north that I am able to see the northern lights. They are eerie and yet resplendent -- a billowing, vibrant display of electric fury that fills the entire night sky.
The Ojibwe believed that northern lights were the spirits of ancient heroes battling in the sky. While this notion is romantic and I wish it were true, Aurora Borealis are actually electrically charged particles that are caused by flare ups from the sun's surface. Once these electrons reach the Earth's magnetic field, they become a gorgeous curtain of celestial colors that paints the entire northern hemisphere.
Lately I've been having these recurring dreams where I'm driving at night down a wide, pinetree-lined highway, and just above the treeline I'm able to see a flicker of the northern lights. I get excited, but my excitement quickly turns into disappointment when I realize that I won't be able to catch a good glimpse because the treetops are in the way. So I continue to drive, determined to find a spot where I can get a better view of the auroras. I take turns onto new roads but it doesn't help -- the pines are still blocking my view. I start to get frustrated, and my frustration turns into desperation because I'm afraid that I won't be able to see the northern lights before they go away.
In all of my dreams, I am unable to get a full glimpse of the lights -- either they go away or the dream ends.